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Jhapan Snake Charmer Documentary

by Satchitbrata Gupta
(Kolkata, West Bengal, India)

Anchor with Cobra

Anchor with Cobra

Anchor with Cobra Snake Charmers Anchor with Python Snake Charmers

Snake Festival! One of the most endangered species in the world. When everybody is scared of these deadly creatures a few find immense joy , satisfaction & happiness in playing around with these dangerous creatures, they even earn their livelihood from these deadly creatures itself and they are known all over the world as the SNAKE CHARMERS.

Every year 17th of August, i.e., the last day of Bengali calendar month Shravana, Bishnupur resounds with the mesmerizing lilt of the snake charmer’s songs with their musical instruments. These are typically Bengali folk songs pertaining to the Serpent-deity Manasa, the daughter of Lord Shiva. The annual festival of “JHAPAN” is celebrated with snake shows. The festival is celebrated with local fairs and other festivities, like snake shows by local snake charmers.



This town in the Bankura district is like a breath of fresh air away from Kolkata’s heat and dust. The verdant fields you traverse to get to this town, just 151 kms by road and 219 kms by rail.

This town of Terracotta Temples and man-made lakes echoes with the history of the Malla Rulers who made it their 16th century capital. Since Bishnupur had no stone for construction, the Malla kings built Terracotta temples to celebrate their love for Lord Vishnu. The temples are built mostly of brick & at times, of laterite. The architecture is modeled on the pattern of Bengali huts built of bamboo & mud and roofed with thatch. Filigreed terracotta tiles carve out stories from the epic of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Bishnupur’s most famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Jhapan Festival is the most important festival celebrated at Bishnupur. At the time of JHAPAN a Mela (fair) is held in front of Lalji Temple and Old Palace Ground. Thousands of people come from far and wide every year for the Jhapan festival in Bishnupur.

In the first day, a procession starts from Shankhari Para. This procession of snake charmers and special idol of Goddess Manasa is carried around the villages. The origin of this festival is believed to belong to the 17th century when the King Bir Hambir Malla was greeted with great rejoicing on his victorious return after the battle with the Huns.

Snake Charmers, called Jhapanias, bring snakes like Cobras, Vipers, Kraits, Pythons, and Rat Snakes, Vines etc. in baskets made of cane, bamboo or grass, to the Old Palace Ground. They come through the street carrying their serpents in baskets or carry them in their bare hands.

The charmer sets up to perform on the stages as their team of assistants or apprentices typically set the pots and baskets around them. Opening the lids they start their act of mesmerizing the snakes along with their specially designed musical instruments accompanied by typical folk songs. With utter surprise of the spectators, the snakes start dancing with the typical movement of the snake charmers. The serpent slowly emerges swaying to and fro in time with the charmer’s movement, apparently lulled and hypnotized by the skill of the performer’s magical tricks. At late evening the first day’s show comes to an end.

The word 'Jhapan' represents the snake worship cult in Bengal . According to Hindu mythology, people celebrate in worship of the goddess so that the fertility of the land increases with expectations of a good harvest. It is basically a regional harvest festival and closely associated with the fertility cult too.

On the second day, the Charmers gather in a place for practicing for the evening show at Jhapantala in Sankhari Bazar.

There are several folk tales dedicated to Goddess Manasa and most of them eulogize of the need for man to live in harmony with nature. Amidst chanting of hymns in glory of Goddess Manasa, groups of snake charmers demonstrate tricks and feats with poisonous snakes.

The outstanding thing is that the snakes never strike back and the charmer even kisses the reptile on its tongue. The charmer may handle his snakes, invite the audience to touch them if they dare to do so, but almost no one does. As if on queue, the snake slowly returns to the container, and the charmer replaces the lid.

In the afternoon, they start to show their tricks in Jhapantala. Hundreds of people gather here to view this show.It was an outstanding and a life time experience to see and actually witness the snake charmers perform different acts with these dangerous creatures.

The two day long, festival brings the entire town alive with a cultural retrospective.
(Snake Festival)
Snake! One of the most endangered species in the world. When everybody is scared of these deadly creatures a few find immense joy , satisfaction & happiness in playing around with these dangerous creatures, they even earn their livelihood from these deadly creatures itself and they are known all over the world as the SNAKE CHARMERS.

Every year 17th of August, i.e., the last day of Bengali calendar month Shravana, Bishnupur resounds with the mesmerizing lilt of the snake charmer’s songs with their musical instruments. These are typically Bengali folk songs pertaining to the Serpent-deity Manasa, the daughter of Lord Shiva. The annual festival of “JHAPAN” is celebrated with snake shows. The festival is celebrated with local fairs and other festivities, like snake shows by local snake charmers.

This town in the Bankura district is like a breath of fresh air away from Kolkata’s heat and dust. The verdant fields you traverse to get to this town, just 151 kms by road and 219 kms by rail.

This town of Terracotta Temples and man-made lakes echoes with the history of the Malla Rulers who made it their 16th century capital. Since Bishnupur had no stone for construction, the Malla kings built Terracotta temples to celebrate their love for Lord Vishnu. The temples are built mostly of brick & at times, of laterite. The architecture is modeled on the pattern of Bengali huts built of bamboo & mud and roofed with thatch. Filigreed terracotta tiles carve out stories from the epic of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Bishnupur’s most famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Jhapan Festival is the most important festival celebrated at Bishnupur. At the time of JHAPAN a Mela (fair) is held in front of Lalji Temple and Old Palace Ground. Thousands of people come from far and wide every year for the Jhapan festival in Bishnupur.

In the first day, a procession starts from Shankhari Para. This procession of snake charmers and special idol of Goddess Manasa is carried around the villages. The origin of this festival is believed to belong to the 17th century when the King Bir Hambir Malla was greeted with great rejoicing on his victorious return after the battle with the Huns.

Snake Charmers, called Jhapanias, bring snakes like Cobras, Vipers, Kraits, Pythons, and Rat Snakes, Vines etc. in baskets made of cane, bamboo or grass, to the Old Palace Ground. They come through the street carrying their serpents in baskets or carry them in their bare hands.

The charmer sets up to perform on the stages as their team of assistants or apprentices typically set the pots and baskets around them. Opening the lids they start their act of mesmerizing the snakes along with their specially designed musical instruments accompanied by typical folk songs. With utter surprise of the spectators, the snakes start dancing with the typical movement of the snake charmers. The serpent slowly emerges swaying to and fro in time with the charmer’s movement, apparently lulled and hypnotized by the skill of the performer’s magical tricks. At late evening the first day’s show comes to an end.

The word 'Jhapan' represents the snake worship cult in Bengal . According to Hindu mythology, people celebrate in worship of the goddess so that the fertility of the land increases with expectations of a good harvest. It is basically a regional harvest festival and closely associated with the fertility cult too.

On the second day, the Charmers gather in a place for practicing for the evening show at Jhapantala in Sankhari Bazar.

There are several folk tales dedicated to Goddess Manasa and most of them eulogize of the need for man to live in harmony with nature. Amidst chanting of hymns in glory of Goddess Manasa, groups of snake charmers demonstrate tricks and feats with poisonous snakes.

The outstanding thing is that the snakes never strike back and the charmer even kisses the reptile on its tongue. The charmer may handle his snakes, invite the audience to touch them if they dare to do so, but almost no one does. As if on queue, the snake slowly returns to the container, and the charmer replaces the lid.

In the afternoon, they start to show their tricks in Jhapantala. Hundreds of people gather here to view this show.It was an outstanding and a life time experience to see and actually witness the snake charmers perform different acts with these dangerous creatures.

The two day long, festival brings the entire town alive with a cultural retrospective.

Blue Lotus Entertainment Inc. is a Production House intends to produce programmes, completely different from general ideas.
Members of our production team are working in this field for long years individually. They have experience, working in foreign and Indian features, docu-features and documentaries for foreign productions and channels. Besides they also have individual experience in working for Bengali Channels.
We are making Video – Documentaries, Corporate Films, Ad Films etc.

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